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The history of the emoji

By 19th Oct 2020No Comments

We all use them 😊. Emoji’s started as just being a simple way to communicate emotion, now they are used in everything from chats with friends to being included in formal business emails. In 2015, the word was the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year winner and in 2017 they made a movie of them! Emoji have become a cultural phenomenon and we thought it would be fun to find out why.

The origins of the word “emoji” are Japanese. It literally translates to “picture character”. But long before the emoji, as us Nerds remember, there was the emoticon. The emoticon was born in 1982 when a professor, Dr Scott E Fahlman asked that students depict jokes with a smiling face 🙂 and comments with serious intent with a frowning face 🙁 on their message board. The symbols moved beyond the university and entered the Internet.

The first creation of the emoji we know today was created in 1999 by Japanese artist, Shigetake Kurita. He created them for business use in a telecommunications company to have an efficient flow of information within the company.

In the beginning, only media companies in Japan were using emojis beyond the telecommunications company. It wasn’t until the late 2000s when global, American, corporates like Apple and Google saw the emoji’s potential and thus began the emoji’s we see today.

However, emoji’s haven’t been without their controversy. The most controversial being the handgun. A man in France was sentenced to 3 months in jail after using the emoji in a death threat to his then-girlfriend. In 2015, Google and Apple changed the emoji to a squirt gun.

On a more humorous note, the original bagel emoji had no cream cheese on it. Philadelphia, the cream cheese manufacturer, started a petition to change the emoji and Apple listened.

As of March 2020, there are 3304 emojis in the Unicode Standard.

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